• Play While You Play

    Play While You Play

    Before, usual imports from Taiwan consisted mainly of art-house fare. Recently however, more and more crossover between the mainstream and art-house/independent worlds is occurring, an ethos that has made the South Korean Renaissance into the factory with a consistently great output it has become. To highlight this emerging ease with which filmmakers can switch between these modes of production and intent, SDAFF dedicated a day’s worth of programming, out of a weekend spotlight on Taiwan, to three popular films from…

  • Harmonium

    Harmonium

    Film Movement have returned to the works of Koji Fukada, having distributed his 2010 film Hospitalite, about the destabilization of the family unit that ensues when a man lets an old acquaintance stay in his home and work for his printing press (also in home). Now they have gotten behind his latest film Harmonium, the Cannes winner also about the disruption a stranger causes a family once invited inside. Even the director himself feels as if Hospitalite were a test…

  • Headshot

    Headshot

    Merantau, released back in 2009, was an exciting debut for both its writer/director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais. While Evans has grown as a action stylist, Uwais has not necesarilly been given many roles that show off all the talents he brought to that debut film. Sure, with each passing Raid film he establishes himself as Indonesia's answer to any other East Asian country's martial arts superstar (he even has a cameo in the last Star Wars film!), but…

  • White Lies, Black Lies

    White Lies, Black Lies

    Lou Yi-An’s romance thriller White Lies, Black Lies treats deception as a given. There is a lie for every occasion be it public or more intimate. It posits that there are deeper, ulterior feelings effecting journalism, and thus the public, and the what and how we are presented. This everyday spin comes from self-preservation, sort of a modern, cynical take on the Rashomon theory: not that everyone can't help but tell a subjective form of the truth thus no truth,…

  • Antiporno

    Antiporno

    The pink film, or the Roman Porno as the Nikkatsu-produced titles were called, was a training ground for many filmmakers who would go on to acclaim and success, some being regarded as masters programmed regularly at the world’s top festivals. In exchange for a requirement to consistently show skin, filmmakers were given pretty much free reign in regards to the rest of the film. This year saw the unveiling of a new Nikkatsu project infinitely more exciting than the now…

  • Wet Woman in the Wind

    Wet Woman in the Wind

    Nikkatsu, in the spirit of maintaining attention and relevance, has joined the reboot party by reigniting the production of the type of soft-core sexploitation that kept them afloat in the 70s and well into the 80s: the roman porno. Enlisting five different directors (all male, apparently all the female directors they wanted were either pregnant or taking care of their kids) they were allowed to make whatever kind of film they wanted just as long as they fulfilled a sex…

  • Over the Fence

    Over the Fence

    The hang-out movie, or at least the hang-out section, is having a resurgence as of late. With extended portions in mainstream Hollywood hits like The Conjuring 2 and Ouija: Origin of Evil where plot is not progressed and a little bit of character is fleshed out here and there, the scene of people just finding modest ways to pass the time is proving to be a desired tool for a filmmaker wishing to break away from the line between A…

  • Nerve

    Nerve

    You're either a player or a watcher. This is how Nerve divides the interconnected world up into two categories. As the film goes on however in its "one-crazy-night" style narrative, we see that the line between player and watcher, participant and bystander, is not as easily delineated in this day and age. This is the same point Unfriended got across, but Nerve is refreshingly hopeful compared to the vengeful indictment of youth culture that was Unfriended. But the film from…

  • The Age of Shadows

    The Age of Shadows

    Much has already been written, including by myself, about the particular timing of South Korea's three biggest filmmaking imports Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook, and Kim Jee-woon. At the same time they all made their English language debut and this year both Kim and Park are making their returns to South Korean production. But what is most interesting is that The Age of Shadows, Kim's espionage thriller - and Warner Bros.' first South Korean co-production - is that it takes place…

  • Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song

    Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701's Grudge Song

    Feeling as though he had done all he could with the Scorpion series, Shunya Ito decided not to work on a fourth installment, despite being offered complete freedom by Toei. They were able to convince Kaji however despite her only wanting to do one, and before that not wanting to do it at all. She brought on Yasuharu Hasebe from Nikkatsu, a director whom she had worked with before when she being branded as the dour, innocent type (Retaliation) and…

  • Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable

    Female Prisoner Scorpion: Beast Stable

    My personal favorite of the series, the third entry presents what will become the height of taboo and visual presence of both Ito and Kaji, her performance showing newfound feral qualities at first and then her attempts to rehabilitate herself back into society when she takes up a sowing factory job. After a subway getaway in which she dismembers the arm of the detective she is handcuffed to, she is taken in by prostitute Yuki (Yayoi Watanabe in her second…

  • Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41

    Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41

    The next outing for Scorpion is where things to start to get really good; the material becomes more challenging and the visuals more experimental. After being gang raped by some guards and then gang-beaten by a group of fellow prisoners, Scorpion makes her escape along with the women who beat her. While on the run their backstories are revealed and we are forced to confront issue after issue from rape, Japanese WWII war crimes, public indifference towards prisoners, the treatment…